Challenges to UN emergency preparedness, humanitarian coord
Challenges to UN emergency preparedness, humanitarian coord

Challenges to UN emergency preparedness, humanitarian coord - PowerPoint Presentation

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events Study released in summer 2014 Carried out in cooperation with UNDP and OCHA Study carried out by UNIDIR Borrie and Caughley Oslo conference summary point 1 It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a ID: 263386 Download Presentation

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Challenges to UN emergency preparedness, humanitarian coordination & response to nuclear detonation events

Study released in summer 2014

Carried out in cooperation with UNDP and OCHAStudy carried out by UNIDIR (Borrie and Caughley)Slide2

Oslo conference summary point #1:

“It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected.

Moreover, it might not be possible to establish such capacities, even if it were attempted.”Led to peer-reviewed UNIDIR research, funded by governments of Norway and Ireland.Slide3

3 Questions

What would happen if a NWD event occurred?What points of reference and procedures does the UN have?Bearing in mind the answers to these questions… currently,

what could – or would – the UN-coordinated humanitarian system do?Slide4

Humanitarian cluster systemFigure courtesy of IASC Slide5

About riskRisk is “the probability of an event multiplied by its consequences”.

NWD events in populated areas are low probability / high consequenceLow probability events are not

no probability eventsWe assume the risk of a NWD event to be greater than zero, but don’t quantify it.We don’t take a view on whether a single or multiple NWD event is more likely.Slide6

ImportantNuclear weapon detonation events (NWD):

Have certain things in common with Civil nuclear/radiological emergenciesSudden onset major natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis, mass fires

But they are different in important waysGreat numbers of people with 3rd degree burns, multiple traumaRadiation sickness, fallout etc.Slide7

Courtesy of

Christopf Wirz, Spiez LabSlide8


Thermal radiation (heat)

Many fires

Prompt radiation

Radioactive fallout

Other effects incl flash and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP)

Fear, disruption etc

Blast and heat effects will cause the greatest harm and destruction.


Our research indicatesHuge variation in potential scenarios in which nuclear weapon detonation events could occur.

However, the Oslo conference finding appears to be valid in most plausible scenarios involving a nuclear weapon detonation event in a highly populated area.Findings associated with such a “reality check”…. Slide10

The current level of


within the humanitarian system



about the specificities of NWD or its ability to respond to them.

For the UN to be called upon presupposes

the situation is already beyond a state’s capacity to respond

effectively to assist the victims (i.e widespread harm has already occurred / is occurring).

The UN is unlikely to be able to offer coordinated humanitarian assistance in the




make a

difference in several ways though, including in longer term thru IASC cluster system

6 main findings (1)Slide11

At present there are

several major challenges

to prompt and effective use of the humanitarian cluster system in the context of a NWD event.

Threat of

further detonations

could vastly complicate humanitarian decision making.


he best approach is


However, UN could plan for the likely challenges of ‘lower-end’ NWD events since this could make a difference to level of overall suffering: we would argue it has a duty to do so.

6 main findings (2)Slide12

Give focused attention to the issue in the IASC

Assign responsibility to an IASC task team, and invite IACRNE to participate

Study and simulate varied NWD scenarios with a view to humanitarian response

Include representative NWD scenarios in future revisions of plans for large, complex, sudden-onset disasters

Review current capacities and plans

Study findings suggest the humanitarian system consider the following:Slide13

Prompt relevant humanitarian and specialized agencies (e.g. IAEA, WHO, CTBTO) to clarify their mandates, policies, roles and capabilities with a view to response to NWD events.

Lend thought to how inter-state processes could impinge on timely humanitarian response

« Winging it is not a plan »

Study findings suggest states consider the following:Slide14


for Action

Full study is available at:


Available in PDF for free, or printed copies can be ordered

There will also be an article on the study in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of the

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists